Monday, July 25, 2011

The Glee Fan's Lament

It has become increasingly apparent to me, over the past two years, that there is perhaps no pop culture fanbase more collectively obsessed than the Glee fans.  But I also have to profess that there is perhaps no more miserable fan existence than that of a "Gleek."

In 2009, Glee took to the stage, with every glimmer of potential on our TV screens, and a phenomenon was born.  Anyone who ever felt like a misfit in high school (read: nearly everyone) took notice, and went about devoting their attention to this Little Show That Could.  What's not to like?  It's a classic underdog story, with singing and dancing - equal parts snark, and heart.  This is all rounded out with a talented cast bringing to life characters we all can relate to, and voilĂ Glee had a bright beginning, and Glee fans fell head over heels.

But this love affair has unfortunately turned sour, as time has worn on and Glee's existence as a television-show-turned-pop-culture-phenomenon has grated - and degraded.  Many hallmarks of the original episodes have trickled away, and in its stead we've gotten an influx of themed episodes, inflated musical numbers, poorly-written storylines, and a complete and utter disregard for any continuity in developing the characters we fell in love with.

Glee fans have turned bitter in the wake of this breakup, upset at dropped plotlines, ignored friendships, ill-devised romantic relationships, and the general wealth of potential that's been completely squandered as episodes have come and gone.  And so, we complain.  Everyone knows that Glee fans love to complain - because there's a lot to complain about.

But at the same time, we can't stop watching.

It'd be one thing if we all recognized the sharp decline in quality, the chilly feel of an old friend's closed heart, and simply gave it up.  Just walked away, with as much of our dignity as we could muster.  But we can't.  We want so badly to be in love with the show we once knew that we tune in every Tuesday night in hopes we'll be greeted by our old friend - only to have our hopes dashed, yet again.  Over, and over again.  

And the only thing to get us through it is shared grumbling, and uncovering the tiniest moments to make us happy - only further fueling our obsessions by forcing us to focus on the inconsequent minutiae.  When we all know, truthfully, that mere particulars do not a quality television show make.  But it's all we have.

In short: we are a sad, masochistic bunch.  Because not only do we stand by a show that resembles only a shadow of its original distinction, but we still shell out our money for the soundtracks, the merchandise, the concert tickets, and the movie tickets to see the same concert in 3D.  Not only do we keep giving Ryan Murphy and Fox the ratings they want to see, but we also open up our wallets and hand over our cash as a thank you for breaking our hearts every week.  

Meanwhile, we're all complaining about how the show has sold out, starting reality competitions and covering Ke$ha and Rebecca Black for no apparent reason.  We gripe about the apparent inability for the writers to pen any storyline in a remotely sophisticated way, and ask ourselves the bitter questions every Glee fan poses at least once.  What happened to Quinn's baby?  Shouldn't she talk about it at some point?  Why did Matt Rutherford move away?  Why didn't he have any lines?  Who's this Blaine guy, and why does he have more solos than Tina and Quinn?  Are Mike and Tina only together because they're Asian?  And, while we're at it, why do Mike, Tina, and Mercedes not get any storylines, huh?  Do the writers know they're being both a little bit sexist and a little bit racist?  Why does Rachel keep going back to Finn after countless heartbreaks?  Is Quinn supposed to act like a lesbian?  Are the writers aware that Mr. Schuester is a terrible teacher and maybe also a terrible human being?  Can't they give Sue something else to do other than try to destroy the glee club?  I love Chris Colfer, but why is Kurt's character so much more developed than the others?  Why did we ever spend time at Dalton when there was not a single storyline there?  Why the hell was Charice ever there in the first place?  Why have we never met Rachel's gay dads?  Is it too much to ask for Mercedes to have a boyfriend?  Why does Artie suddenly and inexplicably act like an asshole?  How many times can Finn choose football over glee club before it gets frustrating?  Can anyone accomplish anything at that school without resorting to blackmail?  

And we go crazy.  We weep over the wasted potential, and hand over cash to buy everything Glee in our sights.  We tune in every Tuesday and somehow are hopeful every time, even though we know better.  So you see, our fan existence is miserable.  The Glee fan's lament is a mournful, self-loathing song, a naive and desperate plea for the good old days, a bitter hymn of broken promises and misplaced trust, and, most unfortunately, the death knell for our own sanity and self-preservation.

One day, we'll stop watching this show.  When we don't love the cast so much, or after we stop trying to build ourselves a bubble to live in, with episodes like "Preggers," and "Wheels."  But until then, we will mope through the rest of Glee because we can't find a way to quit this show.  It buried itself in our hearts at the start, and until the finish, it will remain there, even if it completely destroys us in the process. 

So maybe we'll just stop watching when we die.  And you know that somehow, somewhere, Ryan Murphy is laughing triumphantly at that thought.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. On point, as always.

    "And the only thing to get us through it is shared grumbling, and uncovering the tiniest moments to make us happy - only further fueling our obsessions by forcing us to focus on the inconsequent minutiae. When we all know, truthfully, that mere particulars do not a quality television show make. But it's all we have."

    Sometimes it's fun, searching for the "inconsequent minutiae". But mostly it's just depressing that I care so much even though I am given so little.

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  2. Perfect, well said, and 100% correct as always. Nail on the head. I want to NOT watch so badly. I think liking these actors has a HUGE part in that. I really do. Because we love these actors, we respect them. We want to support their careers as much as we can. So we watch...and watch...and watch. It's like an addictive cycle. You know the end result and you know what you're going to get before you even turn on the TV; but, for some strange reason, you just cannot seem to turn away from such a cocktease that is this show. I REALLY think we'll tire. We have to, surely, at some point. We're not THAT pathetic. Come on. Eventually we will have to put our foot down and say enough is enough! I will not fork over money for such a poor product. That turns ME into the fool. A color I think no one cares to wear. You know the phrase, "fool me once, shame on you...fool me the one hundreth time, am I a FUCKING idiot?! I must be an idiot!" I think season 3 HAS surely got to be the hopeful straw that breaks the cammel's back. I can support these actors WITHOUT supporting this show. Seriously, the Glee Project is such an insult on so many levels. I think when we see the poor sap they choose, that will SURELY push people too far.

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  3. Countless heartbreaks for Rachel? That's more than a little exaggerated. She's the one who cheated so it's her own damn fault. She's not the only one in that relationship who got their heart broken but apparently only her pain matters. And Rachel's had to relearn that she's not the most important person in Glee over and over and over again and it'll be the same thing next season. She can be just as bad a bully as the likes of Quinn and Santana but she gets away with it because she's 'poor little unpopular misunderstood' Rachel.

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  4. Rachel stan are you? No mention of how Rachel has to constantly put down others talent to justify her getting the solo then 'learns' that it's wrong only to do it again a few episodes later. Finn only quit Glee for football once, when he thought he was having a baby and doing the right thing by Quinn, whereas Rachel quit once foor herself and almost quit a second time right before a Sectionals performance beause she couldn't get over her damn self long enough to think about someone else. But of course Rachel's always a poor innocent victim in fans' eyes.

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  5. General wealth of potential….nothing better sums up the feelings that I’ve had about this season. I actually liked many of the story arcs introduced this year (outside Mercedes/Tots because that is offensive on so many levels) but they continued to fail in their execution or consistency. I love this show because it can be smart, silly, and infectious. Not to mention the actors and their ability to really embody their characters. However, I honestly believe that the show just got too big for itself and tried to pander to the general public rather than trying to stay true to itself. It was clearly a moneymaking machine in its popularity and that became the lead focus. I remain optimistic; season 3 could be fantastic (fingers and toes crossed). But maybe I’m still just a masochistic fan.

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  6. I seem to be much easier to please than the average Gleek. Yes, there are frustrations with the show, but (for me at least) the pleasures still far outweigh the frustrations and, after an intial grousing session, I prefer to focus on the parts I actually enjoyed.

    Let's face it, sometimes the online fandom digs for things to be unhappy about, blows them out of proportion, and complains about them for weeks.

    I agree with you about the underdeveloped characters, though. Redressing the unconscious racism involved in neglecting to develop four out of five of the non-white characters (to the point of writing out the African-American male character) ought to be a priority for the new writing staff in Season 3, but I'm not holding my breath.

    BTW, we all know what happened to Quinn's baby: Shelby Corcoran adopted Quinn's baby. And, no, Quinn doesn't need to talk about it. She never displayed the slightest interest in or emotional attachment toward her baby during the entire pregnancy. She was set on giving the baby up for adoption and getting on with her life. She did so. End of story. I don't really need to know any more about it. Glee is a show about SHOW CHOIR, remember?

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  7. Love, love, LOVE your post. Well-written as always. I agree with you on how as Gleeks we can't seem to tear ourselves away from a show that has declined in quality. I feel that the show has so much potential. There have been scenes this season (or even late last season, where in my opinion the show's decline is apparent) are scenes that I think 'oh! i wish all of glee was thought out as well as this!' The actors' talents are also undeniable. Being such a pop culture hit, the writing seems rushed to try to meet that demand. It has become overrated. But like you said, I still come back every week to watch because I hope the potential this show has will shine throughout at least one whole episode. In my mind, that Glee concert movie doesn't exist - I am a fan of Glee the tv show, not Glee the pop culture establishment.

    In regards to the person's comment above me: in my opinion, seeing how Quinn coops with giving up her baby for adoption makes for a great storyline. It may be a show about a show choir, but it has dedicated its self to delving into these students' backgrounds. It is things like this and the questions this blog entry express about the storyline could of made for great episodes. Yet Ryan Murphy + writers seem to be too blinded by the show's sensation to realize it, IMO. Shame.

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  8. I have never read anything more accurate!!!

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  9. lol I dont get it... How does Quinn act like a lesbian?
    And you guys are right. Rachel gets away with way more than the rest of the characters, Quinn and Santana are labelled as bad because of the things they do but if Im not mistaken Rachel has also been selfish, deceitful and a bad friend

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